Justin Trudeau Falls Flat On His Blackface – Wonkette

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for another blackface scandal. We’ve covered a variety of Al Jolson sightings while on the blackface beat, but this is our first with an international dateline. We learned last night that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wore blackface to an “Arabian Nights”-themed party at the private school where he was a teacher. A photograph of Trudeau insulting multiple cultures appeared in the West Point Grey Academy yearbook. This happened in spring of 2001. Trudeau was 29.


The media is calling this a “brownface” incident, but Trudeau wasn’t cosplaying as the second Aunt Viv on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” He went full original recipe Viv. Joy Behar once put on “darker makeup” to look like an African queen for Halloween. That’s “brownface.” That was also the 1970s. Trudeau’s face is blacker than Fred Astaire as Mr. Bojangles.

Vancouver businessman Michael Adamson gave Time Magazine a copy of the yearbook with the photo of Trudeau in blackface. Adamson wasn’t at the party himself and claims to have first seen the photo in July. Although other people are wearing stupid headgear they believe fit the party’s “theme,” Trudeau is the only one who darkened his skin. Even his hands are black. He was clearly the only one who took the “blackface optional” dress code seriously.

According to Zita Astravas, the media relations lead for the Liberal Party, Trudeau attended the school’s annual dinner “dressed as a character from Aladdin.” Is he referring to the Disney movie from 1992? If so, the Genie was more compelling and potentially less offensive. Aladdin himself isn’t even “black.” He’s drawn to resemble a young Tom Cruise with a tan.

Justin Trudeau Addresses Brownface Photo: ‘It Was Something Racist To Do’ | NBC News


Trudeau, who is running for re-election presumably on a non-blackface platform, apologized for the incident yesterday.

TRUDEAU: I shouldn’t have done that. I should have known better and I didn’t. I’m really sorry… Yes, [the photo was racist.] I didn’t consider it racist at the time, but now we know better.

It’s true what we consider racist has changed tremendously since “Friends” was on the air. “The One With All The Blackface” was a popular episode from 2001. Apparently, Trudeau and his private school teacher buddies innocently dressed up like “Arabians” for giggles. Trudeau wore blackface like a racist fool and never considered he’d have to answer for it in public life. He’s probably right: When Jay-Z and Beyonce played in Vancouver last year, they might’ve doubled the black population. Still, this does hurt Trudeau’s carefully created global image as the perfect liberal.

His political challenger, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, is already trying to capitalize on the blackface boogaloo. Scheer condemned Trudeau’s life choices and said the yearbook photo reveals “someone with a complete lack of judgment and integrity, and someone who is not fit to govern this country.” Maybe. But no one at West Point Grey Academy complained. Many of the people attending the gala are still at the school. The culture that accommodates blackface and “culture as costume” parties is the true problem. And Scheer is likely just a much a product of that culture as Trudeau. Scheer has also praised Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as “strong conservative voices,” which doesn’t say much for his own “judgment and integrity.”

People are comparing Trudeau to Ralph Northam, the Virginia governor with a blackface yearbook photo. When Trudeau spoke to the press yesterday, he pulled a Northam and confessed to more blackface. Fortunately, his wife didn’t have to stop him from moonwalking.

Trudeau said he wore blackface “makeup” in high school to sing “Day-O,” a Jamaican folk song famously performed by African-American singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte. “I deeply regret that I did that,” he said.

We’re not sure why Time thinks it needs to explain what “Day-O” is as if we haven’t seen Beetlejuice. By the way, the Tim Burton film came out when Trudeau was in high school. You’ll notice that Canadian treasure Catherine O’Hara is perfectly capable of performing the Harry Belafonte song without wearing blackface. So is everyone else in the scene.

Beetlejuice – Day-o (Banana Boat Song)


Not that blackface is ever appropriate, but we wonder if Trudeau has seen actual photos of Belafonte. The brother is butterscotch. You don’t need burnt cork to perfect the look. We don’t know why some white people think blackface has transformative properties. You didn’t buy the makeup from some voodoo priestess on Bourbon Street. It won’t make you sing like Belafonte or dance like Michael Jackson. You’ll just look like an asshole.

Oh, and it turns out there’s a third blackface photo of Trudeau. The guy’s got a blackface habit. At least Northam just tapped out with two blackfaces.

[New York Times / Time]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He recently fled Seattle, where he did theatre work for Book-It Rep and Cafe Nordo.


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Source: Justin Trudeau Falls Flat On His Blackface – Wonkette

Faith Goldy, Toronto’s White-Nationalist Poster Girl.

Photo: faithgoldy/Instagram

Long before Faith Goldy became a poster girl for white nationalism, she was one of the most popular students at our all-girls private school in Toronto, Havergal College. A year ahead of me, Faith was larger-than-life, a natural for big roles in school plays, while most of us fought for supporting parts. Our school preached women’s empowerment and inclusivity, and Faith was a fierce student leader, proudly aligning herself with the values we were taught. “She was magnetic,” said a former friend. “I remember just wanting to be around her. If she walked into a room, you knew she was there.” Her voice echoed through the school halls, and she became known for her fake tan and big, dyed-blonde hair she moussed into tight coils like ramen noodles.

It seems Faith is still good at commanding attention, but over the 11 years since she graduated, our erstwhile high-school golden girl has plunged deeper and deeper into the bowels of the far right, culminating in a trip to Charlottesville for the infamous Unite the Right rally in August 2017, where she reported sympathetically on the alt-right and then went on a podcast from the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer. “In the next five to ten years, probably closer to five, we will have alt-right men and women running for political office,” she told the cheering audience of neo-Nazis during the live taping of the podcast. On Gab, a social-networking site popular with white supremacists — the online home base for the man who recently killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue — fans lauded Faith’s Daily Stormer appearance as proof she was “our girl.”

In a movement mostly dominated by white men, Faith is a potent weapon for white supremacy. Her fans are fond of pointing out her physical attributes in crude, sexual terms: She’s tall and rail-thin, towering over her interview subjects. She has a head that seems too big for her body, and eyes and lips like a Bratz doll. She has a deep, robotic monotone that she has perfected over years in punditry, and a thick Canadian accent, with rounded “O’s” blown from her puckered mouth like smoke rings.

In July 2018, Faith put in her bid for mayor of Toronto, where she ran a campaign that gleefully parroted Trumpian language like “make Toronto safe again!” and “the media is truly the enemy of the people!” When, as a fringe candidate among more than 30 others, she wasn’t allowed into debates, she painted herself as a free-speech martyr. Her campaign flyer proclaimed, “Only Faith Goldy will evacuate illegal migrants from our city and put Toronto First!”‬ She racked up a much-scrutinized endorsement from Iowa Republican congressman (and fellow avatar of white nationalism) Steve King, orchestrated a photo op with Rudy Giuliani, and garnered a fawning op-ed from conservative media mogul Conrad Black, who argued that, when Canadian TV networks refused to air Faith’s ads, she was “being over-punished for testing the sensitivities of political correctness.”

Anyone who had spent any time tracking her journey online knew that that was a ridiculous claim — she had moved well beyond “politically incorrect.” In the past year, she made a video praising the thuggish Greek neo-fascist party Golden Dawn, bemoaned “cultural Marxists and globalists who have reprogrammed the white race,” and spoken about her desire to “return” Canada to a population that is “96 percent Euro Canadian.” As she put it during an appearance on the far-right YouTube Channel Red Ice: “Racism is used to pathologize a healthy and natural instinct within people. When anyone tells you you’re a racist or white supremacist, tell them that’s a term of oppression and you do not subscribe to it.” While Faith denies the terms white supremacist and alt-right, other figures in the Canadian far right think she’s in the boat with them. After her failed mayoral bid, YouTuber ProperGander TV said, “The media is looking at Faith Goldy as a far-right, white nationalist. Which she is at heart, don’t get it confused.”

Her new, hate-based fame comes as a shock to pretty much everyone who knew her during her school days. Unlike fellow far-right traveler Stephen Miller, who was a glue-eating loner by third grade, Faith was beloved. Almost all the alumni I spoke to said she made them feel included and went out of her way to ask how they were doing, even when they weren’t in her social circle. Now rejected by our community — she was disinvited to the ten-year high-school reunion planned by her former classmates — she remains a source of horror and fascination to us. “I felt dizzy, like the world was spinning, sick to my stomach,” said one former friend, echoing the views of most of our schoolmates. “It was like a ton of bricks had hit me.”

In 2007, Faith’s senior year, she and I had performed together in The Laramie Project, where we made a fence out of sticks and rope and held a vigil for the play’s subject, Matthew Shepard, a young gay man mortally wounded in a 1998 hate crime in Laramie, Wyoming. It seemed impossible to me that the Faith I knew then could have changed so dramatically. For years, I thought if only I could talk to her, maybe I’d be able to understand the reasons for her metamorphosis. The slogan at my high school was, for a time, “preparing young women to make a difference,” and, in her own way, Faith was. But she was fighting for an ideology rooted in racist falsehoods, and I couldn’t understand how someone who once seemed intelligent could buy into it — or would want to. Watching her videos, I didn’t just see a woman shilling abhorrent white nationalist ideas — I also caught flickers of the Faith I remembered, who was vibrant and had seemed so full of promise. Every door had been open to us. Why had she chosen to spend her life peddling bigotry?

Photo: faithgoldy/Instagram

In high school, Faith was an active student with a rebellious streak. She joined sports teams and actively participated in community service projects, but she’d also sneak off to smoke weed in the park near her house. “She had this really weird way of appealing to the authorities, but also this sort of badassery and rebellion,” recalls Corinne, a former friend and schoolmate who knew Faith since fifth grade. Faith was fiercely protective of her younger sister, and on Fridays, according to her sister’s former friends, she would help them buy weed. She also answered questions about sex and shared stories about drug use. On weekends, the dark basement of Faith’s family duplex, with its floor strewn with blankets and pillows, became a place for Faith and her friends to drink and smoke without adult supervision. “Whatever she was doing at that time, she wanted to be the poster child and the leader and to get other people onboard,” recalls one of her sister’s former friends. (Through a lawyer, Faith contends that she never “purchased marijuana for anyone” or “introduced any minor to sex or illicit drugs.”)

There were other signs of Faith’s thirst for the limelight. She was vocally progressive, attended a march in support of marijuana legalization, and presented a social-science project on different forms of birth control. She also wrote and performed a docudrama on sex workers’ rights — all things that would have been taboo in our fairly buttoned-up school. These endeavors got her some social currency, which she thrived on — a pattern that would continue to be a trademark as she made her way into her political career. A former teacher recalls the day that a film crew came to the school to film a talk by environmental activist David Suzuki. He recalls how Faith lit up with the press around. “Suddenly she was like, Oh my god, I just love this spotlight that is coming to town,” the teacher recalls.

Faith didn’t come from the typical privileged Havergal family. In a 2007 radio interview, she reflected on what it was like growing up in a home with an abusive father. After her mother left her father, a doctor, when Faith was in elementary school, it drastically changed their circumstances. Faith, her mom, and Faith’s younger sister moved from a huge mansion with ponies at her birthday parties to a modest duplex. “I was so used to living this luxurious life with my dad, he supported us financially, so I didn’t really know where we’d go or what we’d have to eat, or if we could be able to eat,” Faith said in the radio interview.

Throughout this upheaval, Faith’s mom was her main support system. “She instills in me every day know who you are, be who you are, and don’t let anyone change that,” Faith continued. Girls who knew Faith remembered a “Gilmorean” closeness between Faith, her sister, and her mom, seeing them as a model of a strong female unit. Lia Grimanis, a friend of Faith’s mother who met her volunteering for a domestic violence support group called the Women Abuse Council, recalls admiring Faith’s bravery. “I was just really proud of them to have that courage,” she said. “And I thought, you know, they’re gonna be great fighters for equality. They’re gonna be great fighters for truth.”

Faith put on a brave face in high school when she talked about the strained relationship with her father. Yet there were also signs she was struggling. An adult confidante said Faith had difficulty with her reduced circumstances at a school, where conspicuous wealth was very much on display. She recalls having Faith over to babysit, and how she always sensed that Faith liked being there — as if it was a welcome respite from whatever was happening at home. “She was like a lost puppy,” she recalled. “She was someone I always knew who would land on her feet, but I also felt she needed somebody to show that they were in her corner.”

After middle school, Faith underwent a major physical change, losing a dramatic amount of weight in one summer. Being skinny was prized at our school, but such a seemingly overnight transformation was jarring. The weight loss yielded a change in Faith’s social life, as she became a sudden magnet for male attention, which she relished. Girls from school remember it also yielding a change in her personality. Strutting confidently through the halls with her newly dark and flat-ironed hair and short green school kilt, the new Faith seemed harder and colder, more aloof than the warm person who had tried to make everyone — well, almost everyone — feel included and welcome.

But there were some students who never found her warm. “Even in kindergarten, I witnessed her be overwhelmingly cruel to people, and she always had a way of explaining her way out of it,” recalls one former classmate. She says that while Faith never broadcast her bullying — which might be why so many remember her as charming— she picked her targets strategically, homing in on girls she knew wouldn’t have the power to speak out. “She wasn’t running around being a mean sadistic piece of shit. She was running around being incredibly charismatic,” the classmate recalls. “She had an intuitive understanding of what people wanted to see. She had this capacity to be whoever you wanted her to be.”

Photo: faithgoldy/Instagram

In 2013, a very different Faith Goldy gave a speech at an anti-abortion rally in downtown Toronto. Bundled up in a red plaid coat, her hands fumbling with her notes through black gloves as thick snowflakes fell around her, Faith told the crowd about how feminism had betrayed generations of women who had been “educated to equate [the] right to murder with their liberty as a female.” She told the crowd that she too once bought into the great lie of pro-choice politics as a teenager, chanting slogans like “keep his rosaries out of her ovaries.” Since then, she said, she had seen the “light of life.”

Right after high school, Faith’s mother, Julia, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, and Faith found comfort in God. The family rejected traditional medicine and tried to treat her with prayer and natural healing. When Julia outlived her prognosis by six years, Faith credited it in part to God’s intervention. She also reasoned that taxpayer money that could have been going to her mom’s cancer treatment had been diverted to the “holocaust” of unborn children. High-school friends who were still in touch with Faith were surprised at her 180-degree transformation, but they also understood she was struggling. “We’re just kind of like, okay babe,” recalls a former friend. “We’ll let you have your thing, and at that time we were very glad it was giving her comfort because it was such a difficult time.”

As a political-science student at the University of Toronto, Faith became pro-life and soon passionately embraced other conservative values. “I typically didn’t debate too much with her because sometimes I would get an emotional response to what she was saying and she never would,” said a former college friend. Yet for all Faith’s newfound holiness, the friend saw her as someone who didn’t always practice the traditional values she preached, and who continued to party and seek the spotlight. According to a former Canadian government staffer who used to see Faith at conservative conferences and conventions, she was a skilled social climber and “conservative socialite” often seen hobnobbing with powerful men at events.

At some point during her mom’s illness, she began a relationship with a guy named Josef Viezner — now her fiancé — whom she had met in passing via Toronto private-school circles. They shared a love of guns and a mutual pride in their European heritage. When I was in high school, I had heard about an incident in which Joe and some other kids had been asked to leave their all-boys school in part for their participation in a chat group that glorified the Holocaust and was filled with anti-Semitic slurs. “Joe was one of three people that was asked to leave the school for an anti-Semitic incident,” confirmed Hal Hannaford, the school principal from that time. Multiple former schoolmates confirmed that Joe had a habit of espousing anti-Semitic rhetoric. Adds one former classmate: “I wasn’t really surprised when I heard [Faith’s extremist views], and that’s because I knew Joe.” Through a lawyer, Viezner states that he is not and has never been anti-Semitic. This past February, Faith posted a birthday collage of Joe on Instagram hailing him as “the guy who makes my politics sound leftie.”

Faith’s mother died in 2014. By then, Faith was working as a reporter and commentator on Sun News, then the Fox News of Canada, where she was cast as the “token young person,” who talked about Christian morality and railed against abortion and gay rights. At least at first, people who knew Faith saw her rightward shift as flagrant opportunism, citing how different she was as soon as the cameras came on. “I don’t think Faith has ever been capable of understanding that people have real emotional feelings about social injustice,” said John Downs, who was often cast as the young liberal on Sun News panels opposite Faith. “This is just a game that she really wants to win, no matter what the consequences might be.”

After Sun News closed, Faith moved to the Rebel Media, an outlet more like Breitbart and Infowars — an ugly mix of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant messaging. She quickly became one of the network’s stars, warning the audience of the feminizing dangers of soy and the prospect of “white genocide,” arguing that “diversity might just be code for population replacement.” She spoke of a holy war between Islam and the West and called for a return to the Crusades. In January 2017, a far-right vigilante killed six worshippers at a Mosque in Quebec; at his trial, a document with his search history was produced, showing that in the month before the attack, he mainlined sources like Ben Shapiro, Richard Spencer, and Faith’s Rebel pal (and founder of the violent far-right Proud Boys) Gavin McInnes. Two days after the shooting, Faith promoted an Islamophobic conspiracy suggesting the killer may have actually been a Muslim man.

Faith was fired from the Rebel after she went down to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville and appeared on the Daily Stormer’s Krypto Report podcast. Openly associating with neo-Nazis was apparently too much for her bosses, no matter that she had been spewing hatred on their dime for years before that. The firing seemed only to incite her further. Faith then made what Jared Holt, a reporter for Right Wing Watch, calls “a Need for Speed drift into the extreme right,” spending the next few months hanging out on white-nationalist podcasts, YouTube channels, and Gavin McInnes’s show, as well as beginning to make her own videos. In these appearances, you can see her martyr complex continuing to grow. With McInnes, she talks about how “getting burned” for exercising her free speech only emboldened her to speak out more. He cheers her on. “You see what I’m screaming folks at home, this isn’t just a journalist, this is a world leader! It doesn’t hurt that she’s an 8.97; you get the best of Melania and Donald!”

In December, in a now-removed interview with a YouTube channel called Millennial Woes, run by Colin Robertson, who argues that supporting racial equality is “clearly deluding yourself,” she doubled down on her commitment to white-nationalist beliefs. Faith, wearing a fuzzy blue-and-white Christmas sweater, spoke in awed terms about the “great conversation” happening after Charlottesville when it came to clarifying “optics” and the future direction of the “dissident right.” She describes life after being fired as “completely liberating.” Charlottesville helped her to clarify her views and see who her people were. “We don’t have many friends, but hell, we’ve got a fighting cause and we believe in our future,” she said. Faith also quoted Richard Spencer, who is one of America’s most prominent white-nationalist figureheads: “You have to be willing to become a villain in order to make change in this society.”

Photo: faithgoldy/Instagram

Robertson then prompted her say the 14 words, the notorious white-supremacist slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” The 14 words were coined by white-supremacist terrorist David Lane, who was convicted of murdering a Jewish radio host named Alan Berg. The number 14 is one of the most common ways of identifying as a white supremacist and is often seen tattooed on the forearms of skinheads and Klan members. Faith said it through giggles. “I don’t see why that’s controversial, is that bad?” she asked facetiously. “I think it’s controversial to say the opposite.”

Why did Faith take such a sharp turn toward extremism? There’s no exact moment when someone snaps; rather, it involves a complex constellation of psychological, social, and cultural factors. While there is no clear link between trauma and extremism, for some individuals, upheaval in their home lives can leave them adrift and searching for new meaning. “One of the great perceived attractions to becoming involved in extremism is it presents a simple way of understanding a complicated world,” explains Dr. John Horgan, whose research is focused on the psychology of terrorist behavior. “It’s comforting, like a warm blanket.” People who become extremists generally have a fragile sense of identity. The way Faith threw herself into Catholicism when her mom got sick may have indicated a hunger for new ideologies that could help explain her place in the world.

J.M. Berger, one of the leading experts on extremist ideologies, told me it can be helpful to think of extremist ideas as a socially transmitted disease, one that spreads particularly quickly in times of societal uncertainty. In order to catch the virus, you need both a weakened immune system and you need exposure. As Faith was exploring her newfound religiosity and grappling with the loss of her mother, she was getting serious with someone who had expressed anti-Semitic views in high school. She was also diving headfirst into a political and media landscape where the far right and mainstream right were quickly converging, and where social media was causing extremist ideology to proliferate at an unprecedented rate. “If you get into a social network where [extremist views are] on offer, then you’re much more likely to pick it up,” Berger explains. If extremism is a virus, Faith, seeing this burgeoning online white-nationalist movement as a shortcut to fame and notoriety, became a willing host for it.

Holt says becoming a far-right media personality is often a decision you can’t undo. “It can be a profitable decision to go far to the right, where the audience is very accepting and gets excited about new personalities that come on the scene, especially young women,” he said. “But because this audience is so toxic and hateful, going to that audience is sort of like your last stop on a media career. It’s like Hotel California; it’s nearly impossible to ever leave once you get in.”

Faith, like many women in the alt-right, occupies a complicated space. The movement needs women if it’s going to spread its message far and wide, but it’s also rooted in deeply misogynistic beliefs, with a fan base that derides and objectifies the women it elevates. “I know it seems a bit rich a female telling men what to do, I’d frankly rather be cooking and cleaning,” she said on the far-right Millennial Woes podcast. Later, she told professional misogynist Roosh V, on a show about “tradthots” (women who preach traditional values without living up to them), that “I, for one, have never fancied myself to be a thought leader … I’ve only seen myself as a propaganda arm, and I would hope that a lot of the women [in far-right media] see themselves as such.” Faith clearly has designs on being a leader; she always has, ever since we were little. But the nature of the alt-right means that she has to renounce her own ambitions.

After Charlottesville, Havergal put out a statement distancing itself from Faith, though it didn’t mention her by name. When I reached out to the school for comment, they told me, “The school’s values — integrity, inquiry, compassion and courage — do not align with Faith Goldy’s. Rather than mention her specifically and continue the negative discourse, Havergal took the opportunity to reinforce our values.” Yet our community was reeling, and it wasn’t just people from school who struggled to comprehend Faith’s transformation. When I originally spoke to Faith’s mom’s friend Lia Grimanis for this story, she hadn’t been caught up with Faith’s trajectory. She spent the next night binge-watching Faith’s videos and emailed me the next morning with the subject line, “sick.”

“For five years, I’ve deliberately stayed uninformed about her, because of the family connection,” she wrote. “Back then, I thought she was an Ann Coulter wannabe, with some offensive views about trans people, Sex Ed, and other standard hard right wing complaints. I had no idea she had gone so far into race issues. How did this happen? We are the daughters of immigrant families. I am utterly horrified, heart broken, and completely at a loss.”

When I first emailed Faith in 2017, pre-Charlottesville, she had been eager to talk, signing off her email with a chummy “I’m so pleased to see you’re kicking butt & taking names south of the 49th.” When I emailed her again this past August, she was less effusive, saying she only wanted to talk about her mayoral bid and “vision for Toronto.” Then she stopped responding to my emails altogether, despite complaining constantly about the mainstream media ignoring her campaign. Luckily, just like at school when you could hear her voice booming through the halls, she wasn’t hard to find. On a sweltering September night in Toronto, I saw her Periscoping her location to fans and went to meet her.

She was wearing a dark-blue blazer and her hair was ironed flat. She didn’t recognize me at first, so I pulled down my sunglasses. “Anna Silman!” she exclaimed. I was disarmed by her friendliness. Faith is even slimmer than she looks onscreen, with lashes so heavily layered in mascara she seemed to be straining to hold her eyes open. She steered me over to a quiet corner so that my recorder would pick up the sound better. Right off the bat, she tried to establish familiarity, saying my name, holding my gaze, referencing shared memories. She told me her “red pill” moment came when she was around 17, when her mom revealed that she was a pro-life conservative. “Here I was as you remember me, Anna, a poncho-wearing, braided-haired hippie, and my mom was a conservative? My confidant, my best friend, my hero?” said Faith with dramatic flair. That was the moment when Faith said she first started to engage with what she called “conservative” ideas.

I asked how she felt about all the people who had once loved her and were now sickened by the things she said. Her eyes narrowed. “Is this a gossip column you’re writing?” she asked. With a seamless move, she flicked out her phone and began recording our conversation. I said it was a story about her. “I have so many fantastic friends, some of whom I’ve known since I was in kindergarten, some of whom are new friends. And part of growing up is that folks evolve,” she said, sounding hurt. If people really cared about her they would stick by her, she added, even if they disagreed with her views. “Those who don’t, well then perhaps they’ve just fallen victim to this culture of social justice ‘offend-luenza’ if you will, constantly triggered and offended by everything,” she continued. “Grow up, it’s the real world.” The way she spoke was oddly stilted, like she was reading off an invisible teleprompter only she could see.

In our interview, Faith showed no accountability for how her rhetoric could lead to violence. I asked why she had gone on the Daily Stormer. “I’m sorry to hear that you were triggered by my appearance there,” she responded robotically, saying that she had been “unfamiliar” with the podcast and that she “[doesn’t] hang out, in the bowels of the internet.” I asked why she had said the 14 words, given that it is known as a neo-Nazi slogan; she said they were “a thought experiment.” When I asked her about her views toward LGBT people — like that participating in a pride parade is “endorsing a sinful lifestyle” — she responded brightly with “I, too, am a sinner,” adding that she has wonderful gay men working on her campaign. I mentioned her remark about alt-right challengers running for office and asked if she considered herself one of them, which she denied. “I am on record as saying, I am in support of the one-state solution [for Israel], and a lot of members of the alt-right don’t like that about me,” she said.

I could feel her appealing strategically to my Jewish identity. She knows how to  speak to her audience, how to morph her ideology to fit whoever she needs to convince. “Correct me if I’m wrong, you’re a woman of Jewish heritage,” she said. “When you use the word, Nazi, you, because of your heritage, ought to know better, than to throw it around recklessly.” I pointed out that she had associated with actual neo-Nazis, so I wasn’t really throwing it around, but regardless, if she had “known” what the Daily Stormer was, would she do it again?  “I am so fiercely committed to truth and sharing what I experience, what comes of my research, that I will always stand committed to free speech and freedom of association,” she shot back.

The moment we started talking, I realized I wasn’t going to get Faith to level with me in any meaningful way. I was being played. We all were. That’s the thing about Faith, and this new white supremacy rising beneath us. It’s meant to be destabilizing, confounding, uncanny. The new white supremacy doesn’t announce itself plainly; it’s concerned with “optics.” It doesn’t wear a hood or wave a swastika. It portends to be relatable and nonthreatening. It says things it doesn’t mean; it denies those it does. Why was I so surprised when it showed up like this, in the form of my high-school theater co-star, chastising me about my language on a Toronto street corner?

Since 9/11, white supremacists and other far-right extremists have been responsible for far more killings in the U.S. than any other domestic terrorist category, according to the New York Times. We’ve seen mass killings at mosques, Sikh temples, and churches. Last month, a white supremacist killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue because he had bought into a fake far-right conspiracy theory about George Soros funding a migrant invasion of the U.S. — a lie that was parroted not just by Faith’s cronies in the alt-right, but also by talking heads on Fox Business Network.

Vegas Tenold, a journalist who wrote a book called Everything You Love Will Burn about the six years he spent embedded with white supremacists in the U.S., says he finds Faith more frightening than the Klansmen and neo-Nazis he reports on. “She’s dangerous because she isn’t overtly abhorrent,” says Tenold. “Faith Goldy is even more adept than the Richard Spencers of the world. She’s just a faster, stronger, better white nationalist.” If you view the alt-right less as a cohesive movement than as a vehicle to introduce white-supremacist ideas into mainstream politics, “then she is a better weapon by which to do that.”

Despite all of Faith’s contortions to try and have it both ways, things aren’t looking so good for her right now. A few weeks ago, she lost the Toronto mayoral election. She got 3.4 percent of the vote, putting her in third place. During her campaign, Faith toned down her rhetoric to try and appeal to the mainstream, or, as, one YouTuber dedicated to “promoting pan-Euro-nationalism” put it, tried to “optics-cuck to try and win some votes.” But Toronto doesn’t want her, and now, neither does the alt-right. After she lost, Richard Spencer tweeted that she had betrayed the cause by allying with Zionist causes and diluting her platform to get votes. “She ran a campaign that was only about her ‘brand’ and proved that she has precious few ideas or ideals beyond that,” he tweeted. “I once thought she could be a bridge to somewhere, now I think she is a bridge to nowhere.” Faith is only useful to them when she’s winning.

“That’s all the movement is built on: egos,” said Tenold. “Knowing Richard [Spencer], I’m pretty sure he’s very jealous of her [fame]. It doesn’t matter as long as you have the loudest voice. That’s why none of them can ever collaborate on anything whatsoever under the fucking sun.” Sure enough, the day after she lost, Faith changed her Twitter bio to “next Prime Minister of Canada.”

During our awkward high-school reunion, I asked Faith how she looked back on her teenage years — how she squared the person she was now with the girl that I remembered. “Darling, they were the glory years!” she responded, with a chummy, conspiratorial look on her face. “Who wouldn’t wanna be back in high school? I mean, I’m sure that [you wouldn’t] if you were severely bullied. I was bullied a little bit, and I’m not so allergic to the idea of sometimes kids getting theirs, so to speak.”

“So, do I look fondly on it? Of course!” she said. “I was popular. Teachers, by and large, loved me, students of all popularity statuses loved me, ‘cause I gave time to everyone, and if I saw so much as one little girl being bullied by another, you know this, Anna, I’d get in the middle,” she said. “I’ve always longed to protect the flock, and stare eyeball to eyeball with the wolves.”


Source: Faith Goldy, Toronto’s White-Nationalist Poster Girl.

Opinion | The Religion of Whiteness Becomes a Suicide Cult – The New York Times

CreditCreditMatt Chase

“White men,” an obscure Australian academic named Charles Henry Pearson predicted in his 1893 book “National Life and Character: A Forecast,” would be “elbowed and hustled, and perhaps even thrust aside” by people they had long regarded as their inferiors — “black and yellow races.” China, in particular, would be a major threat. Pearson, prone to terrors of racial extinction while living in a settler colony in an Asian neighborhood, thought it was imperative to defend “the last part of the world, in which the higher races can live and increase freely, for the higher civilization.”

His prescriptions for racial self-defense thunderously echoed around the white Anglosphere, the community of men with shared historical ties to Britain. Theodore Roosevelt, who held a complacent 19th-century faith, buttressed by racist pseudoscience, that nonwhite peoples were hopelessly inferior, reported to Pearson the “great effect” of his book among “all our men here in Washington.”

In the years that followed, politicians and pundits in Britain and its settler colonies of Australia, Canada and the United States would jointly forge an identity geopolitics of the “higher races.” Today it has reached its final and most desperate phase, with existential fears about endangered white power feverishly circulating once again between the core and periphery of the greatest modern empire. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” President Trump said last year in a speech hailed by the British journalist Douglas Murray, the Canadian columnist Mark Steyn and the American editor Rich Lowry. More recently, Mr. Trump tweeted (falsely) about “large-scale killing” of white farmers in South Africa — a preoccupation, deepened by Rupert Murdoch’s media, of white supremacists around the world.

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign appealed to those voters with existential fears about endangered white power, Pankaj Mishra writes.CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

To understand the rapid mainstreaming of white supremacism in English-speaking liberal democracies today, we must examine the experience of unprecedented global migration and racial mixing in the Anglosphere in the late 19th century: countries such as the United States and Australia where, as Roosevelt wrote admiringly in 1897, “democracy, with the clear instinct of race selfishness, saw the race foe, and kept out the dangerous alien.” It is in the motherlands of democracy rather than in fascist Europe that racial hierarchies first defined the modern world. It is also where a last-ditch and potentially calamitous battle to preserve them is being fought today.

This “race selfishness” was sharpened in the late 19th century, as the elites of the “higher races” struggled to contain mass disaffection generated by the traumatic change of globalization: loss of jobs and livelihoods amid rapid economic growth and intensified movements of capital, goods and labor. For fearful ruling classes, political order depended on their ability to forge an alliance between, as Hannah Arendt wrote, “capital and mob,” between rich and powerful whites and those rendered superfluous by industrial capitalism. Exclusion or degradation of nonwhite peoples seemed one way of securing dignity for those marginalized by economic and technological shifts.

The political climate was prepared by intellectuals with clear-cut racial theories, such as Brooks Adams, a Boston Brahmin friend of Roosevelt, and Charles B. Davenport, the leading American exponent of eugenics. In Australia, Pearson’s social Darwinism was amplified by media barons like Keith Murdoch (father of Rupert and a stalwart of the eugenics movement) and institutionalized in a “White Australia” policy that restricted “colored” migration for most of the 20th century. Anti-minority passions in the United States peaked with the 1924 immigration law (much admired by Hitler and, more recently, by Jeff Sessions), which impeded Jewish immigrants and barred Asians entirely. By the early 20th century, violence against indigenous peoples, immigrants and African-Americans reached a new ferocity, and nativist and racist demagogues entrenched a politics of dispossession, segregation and disenfranchisement.

The post-World War I Paris Peace Conference in 1919. An effort to to have a racial equality clause included in the Covenant of the League of Nations was quashed by the Anglosphere nations.CreditPhoto 12/UIG, via Getty Images

Seeking to maintain white power globally, Roosevelt helped transform the United States into a major imperialist power. Woodrow Wilson, too, worked to preserve, as he put it, “white civilization and its domination of the planet” even as he patented the emollient rhetoric of liberal internationalism that many in the American political and media establishment still parrot. At the post-World War I Paris Peace Conference, which Wilson supervised, the leaders of Britain, the United States, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Canada not only humiliated the many Asians and Africans demanding self-determination; they also jointly defeated an attempt by Japan, their wartime ally, to have a racial equality clause included in the Covenant of the League of Nations.

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The exposure of Nazi crimes, followed by decolonization and civil rights movements, generally discredited quasi-scientific racism and stigmatized overt expressions of white supremacism. In our own time, global capitalism has promised to build a colorblind world through economic integration. But as revolts erupt against globalization in its latest, more disruptive phase, politicians and pundits in the Anglosphere are again scrambling to rebuild political communities around what W. E.B. Du Bois in 1910 identified as “the new religion of whiteness.”

The intellectual white web originally woven in late-19th-century Australia vibrates once more with what the historians Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds termed “racial knowledge and technologies that animated white men’s countries and their strategies of exclusion, deportation and segregation.” Mr. Trump, for instance, has chosen Australia’s brutal but popular immigration policies as a model: “That is a good idea. We should do that too,” he said in January 2017 to Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s prime minister at the time, as he explained his tactic of locking up refugees on remote islands. “You are worse than I am,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Turnbull.

If right-wing Australian politicians were among the first to mainstream a belligerent white nationalism, the periodicals and television channels of Rupert Murdoch have worked overtime to preserve the alliance between capital and mob in the Anglosphere. Indulged by Mr. Murdoch’s newspapers, writers like Bernard Lewis, Niall Ferguson, David Frum, Andrew Sullivan and Andrew Roberts repeatedly urged American neoconservatives after the Sept. 11 attacks to take up the aging white man’s burden and quell mutinous natives.

A broad range of figures in the Anglosphere’s establishment, including some of Mr. Trump’s most ostentatious critics today, contributed manure to the soil in which Trumpism flourishes. Cheered on by the Murdoch press, Tony Blair tried to deepen Britain and America’s “special relationship” in Iraq. Leaders of Australia and Canada also eagerly helped with the torture, rendition and extermination of black and brown brutes.

Not surprisingly, these chieftains of white settler colonies are fierce cultural warriors; they are all affiliated with private donors who build platforms where political correctness, Islam and feminism are excoriated, the facts of injustice and inequality denied, chests thumped about a superior but sadly imperiled Western civilization, and fraternal sympathy extended to Israel, the world’s last active settler-colonialist project.

Emotional incontinence rather than style or wit marks such gilded networks of white power. For the Anglosphere originally forged and united by the slave trade and colonialism is in terminal crisis today. Whiteness denoted, as Du Bois wrote, “the ownership of the earth forever and ever.” But many descendants of the landlords of the earth find themselves besieged both at home and abroad, their authority as overlords, policemen and interpreters of the globe increasingly challenged.

Pennsylvanian white supremacists’ fear was reflected in this 1866 poster attacking the Radical Republican politician John White Geary for his support of black civil rights.CreditMPI/Getty Images

Mr. Trump appears to some of these powerful but insecure men as an able-bodied defender of the “higher races.” The Muslim-baiting British Conservative politician Boris Johnson says that he is “increasingly admiring of Donald Trump.” Mr. Murray, the British journalist, thinks Mr. Trump is “reminding the West of what is great about ourselves.” The Canadian YouTube personality Jordan Peterson claims that his loathing of “identity politics” would have driven him to vote for Mr. Trump.

Other panicky white bros not only virulently denounce identity politics and political correctness — code for historically scorned peoples’ daring to propose norms about how they are treated; they also proclaim ever more rowdily that the (white) West was, and is, best. “It is time to make the case for colonialism again,” Bruce Gilley, a Canadian academic, recently asserted and promptly shot to martyrdom in the far-right constellation as a victim of politically correct criticism. Such busy recyclers of Western supremacism, many of whom uphold a disgraced racial pseudoscience, remind us that history often repeats itself as intellectual farce.

The low comedy of charlatanry, however, should not distract us from the lethal dangers of a wounded and swaggering identity geopolitics. The war on terror reactivated the 19th century’s imperial archive of racial knowledge, according to which the swarthy enemy was subhuman, inviting extreme and lawless violence. The rapid contraction of suffrage rights witnessed in early-20th-century America is now mimicked by Republican attempts to disenfranchise nonwhite voters. The Australian lawmaker who recently urged a “final solution” for Muslim immigrants was only slightly out of tune with public debate about immigration in Australia. Hate crimes continue to rise across the United States, Britain and Canada. More ominously, demographic, economic and political decline, and the loss of intellectual hegemony, have plunged many long-term winners of history into a vengeful despair.

A century ago, the mere suspicion of being thrust aside by black and yellow peoples sparked apocalyptic visions of “race suicide.” Today, the “preponderance of China” that Pearson predicted is becoming a reality, and the religion of whiteness increasingly resembles a suicide cult. Mr. Trump’s trade wars, sanctions, border walls, deportations, denaturalizations and other 11th-hour battles seem to push us all closer to the “terrible probability” James Baldwin once outlined: that the rulers of the “higher races,” “struggling to hold on to what they have stolen from their captives, and unable to look into their mirror, will precipitate a chaos throughout the world which, if it does not bring life on this planet to an end, will bring about a racial war such as the world has never seen.”

Pankaj Mishra, a contributing opinion writer, is the author, most recently, of “Age of Anger: A History of the Present.”



Source: Opinion | The Religion of Whiteness Becomes a Suicide Cult – The New York Times

Uber disabled emergency braking in self-driving car: U.S. agency | Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Uber had disabled an emergency braking system in a self-driving vehicle that struck and killed a woman in Arizona in March even though the car had identified the need to apply the brakes, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report released on Thursday.

The report into the first fatal crash caused by a self-driving vehicle also disclosed that the modified 2017 Volvo XC90’s radar systems observed the pedestrian six seconds before impact but “the self-driving system software classified the pedestrian as an unknown object, as a vehicle, and then as a bicycle with varying expectations of future travel path.”

At 1.3 seconds before impact, the self-driving system determined emergency braking was needed. But Uber said, according to the NTSB, that automatic emergency braking maneuvers in the Volvo XC90 were disabled while the car was under computer control in order to “reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior.”

The report gives new fuel to opponents in Congress who have stalled a bill designed to speed the deployment of self-driving cars on U.S. roads and puts a spotlight on the fact that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is also investigating, does not test self-driving vehicles or certify them before they are deployed on U.S. roads.

Uber Technologies Inc, which voluntarily suspended testing after the crash in the city of Tempe, said on Wednesday it planned to end testing in Arizona and focus on limited testing in Pittsburgh and two cities in California. Uber aims to resume its self-driving operations this summer, likely with smaller routes and fewer cars, the company said.

The company did not directly comment on the NTSB findings but noted it recently named a former NTSB chairman, Christopher Hart, to advise on Uber’s safety culture.

“As their investigation continues, we’ve initiated our own safety review of our self-driving vehicles program,” the company said on Thursday, adding it planned to announce changes in the coming weeks.

All aspects of the self-driving system were operating normally at the time of the crash, and there were no faults or diagnostic messages, the NTSB said.

Elaine Herzberg, 49, was walking her bicycle outside the crosswalk on a four-lane road when she was struck by the Uber vehicle traveling 39 miles per hour (63 kph).

A safety operator behind the wheel appeared to be looking down, and not at the road, moments before the crash, according to video from inside the car released by police. The operator told the NTSB she was not looking at a mobile phone but monitoring the vehicle’s self-driving systems.

Tempe police said on Wednesday it had completed its investigation and turned the findings over to prosecutors to review. Police did not release the results of the probe.

The NTSB said the Uber vehicle required the operator to intervene and take action, but the system was not designed to alert the operator. The report said the operator engaged the steering wheel less than a second before impact and began braking less than a second after impact.

The report noted that Herzberg tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana, and that she did not look in the direction of the vehicle until just before impact.


William Wallace, senior policy analyst for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, called Uber “reckless” and said the NTSB report “makes it clear that a self-driving car was tested on public roads when it wasn’t safe enough to be there, and it killed a pedestrian.” He added that the system “was far too dangerous to be tested off a closed track.”

Some cities expressed hesitation about immediately allowing Uber to return to testing.

Pittsburgh mayoral spokesman Timothy McNulty said the mayor still “wants a full federal investigation of the accident and for Uber to agree to his demands specific to Pittsburgh testing before he would welcome them back to the city.”

Sacramento, California, is interested in having Uber and other developers test in the city but wants to ensure the companies follow all regulations.

“The NTSB report really shines a light on the importance of safety and security of vehicles, so I think it hardens our stance a little bit on safety and security,” said Louis Stewart, Sacramento chief innovation officer.

A spokesman for Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation said on Thursday it would ensure it was satisfied with the steps Uber has taken to ensure the safety of its automated vehicles, before resuming testing in Toronto.

Arizona’s governor in March suspended Uber’s permit for the testing, citing safety concerns.

Uber has said it considers self-driving technology important to the future of its ride services, although it is not clear how it fits into the plans of new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi. He has revamped the company structure and cut expenses as Uber prepares for an initial public offering next year.

The NTSB did not say when it would release its final report on the accident. The agency typically issues its final conclusions at least a year after an accident.

It is also investigating a series of crashes involving Tesla Inc’s semi-autonomous “Autopilot” system after faulting the system last year after a fatal crash in Florida.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators examine a self-driving Uber vehicle involved in a fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona, U.S., March 20, 2018. A women was struck and killed by the vehicle on March 18, 2018. National Transportation Safety Board/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. – RC124083F3B0

Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Heather Somerville in San Francisco and Jim Finkle in Toronto; Editing by Dan Grebler and Peter Cooney


Source: Uber disabled emergency braking in self-driving car: U.S. agency | Reuters

TTC’s Brad Ross on The Commuter: What not to do if Liam Neeson boards your train – The Globe and Mail

When The Globe and Mail asked if I would consider writing something about Liam Neeson’s latest action thriller, The Commuter, I eagerly agreed. Not since The Taking of Pelham 123 has Hollywood fare given public transit such a platform.

I imagined a storyline that had Neeson’s daughter, stuck on a shuttle bus – or worse, waiting for a shuttle bus – because the subway was closed for signal upgrades. Frantically calling her negligent father, frustrated and angry, on the verge of hate-tweeting, she pleads with him to just hurry up and come get her. Or maybe Neeson’s daughter and wife are delayed on a crowded train trying to decipher announcements, all the while staring in horror at a bag occupying a seat, or witnessing a grown adult actually wearing his backpack rather than taking it off as a courtesy to those around him.

But no.

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Everything I’m about to tell you is prohibited under TTC Bylaw No. 1. And every one of these things happens in The Commuter. Here are some points and sage advice to consider should a distressed Liam Neeson board your train one day:

  • No TTC employee will bully you and insist on looking in your bag based on the hunch of a stressed-out passenger. I promise.
  • In the unlikely event gunshots ring out on your train, please press the yellow emergency alarm. If you’re waiting for a derailment it’s too late. Seriously, press it.
  • If you somehow manage to climb under the train’s carriage from inside the car itself, then wow. Double wow if you’re 60, as Neeson’s character reminds us of on several occasions.
  • If you live through that stunt, then do not attempt to roll out from between the tracks as the train passes over you. You will not survive.
  • Congratulations, you have survived. Do not attempt, then, to jump back onto the moving train. Take a cab. Grab an Uber. Rent a bike. Thanks for riding.
  • If you pull the emergency brake (not found on new TTC subway trains), the wheels will not lock up and send sparks flying like some Grade 9 shop class gone wrong. The train will simply brake hard, so hold tight.
  • Please don’t try to decouple cars. Just go and sit down.
  • If, after all the gun play, bare-knuckle fights, sudden poker games and broken air conditioning (hot-car alert, TTC riders), a train crew member then flirts with you, inquiring about the seriousness of you and your boyfriend’s relationship, do call us so we can investigate this wildly inappropriate behaviour.
  • Finally, if you complain that “this train is freaking me out,” I will remind you in a very professional tone that more than half of all delays are, in fact, caused by commuters.

The “see something, say something” public-service campaign seen on North American transit systems to encourage the reporting of suspicious activity gets several nods in The Commuter, but no takers.

Shockingly, no one can even be bothered to record or tweet a single extraordinary event, of which there are several, on this commute from hell. Experience dictates that this journey would trend on Twitter for a good 30 minutes at least.

As a public service, allow me to report that I saw something: The Commuter. I am equally compelled, then, to say something: Get a transfer.

The Commuter opens across the country Jan. 12.

Brad Ross is the executive director of corporate communications for the Toronto Transit Commission.

Films with female leads top BAFTA nominations (Reuters)

Source: TTC’s Brad Ross on The Commuter: What not to do if Liam Neeson boards your train – The Globe and Mail

Why Canada’s New Cultural Policy Will Be Terrible for the Arts · The Walrus

If every generation gets the culture it deserves, then Creative Canada is the cultural policy we deserve. With its panegyrics to innovation, digital solutions, and “creative hubs,” Heritage Minister Melanie Joly’s new strategy, released on September 28, is an unmistakable product of our moment. But beneath the carapace of Silicon Valley jargon and political sloganeering hides a long-standing national anxiety: that Canadian culture is imperilled by American technological disruption. It’s an anxiety at least as old as the 1949 Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences.

The Massey Commission, as it is often called, and which ran until 1951, reflected a fear over what the rise of mass culture in general (and television in particular) meant for the survival of a distinctively Canadian culture. The actual historical significance of the commission’s 500-page report—which called for more federal funding for culture and led to the creation of Library and Archives Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts—varies according to who is telling the history. It either laid the policy groundwork for the most important institutions of Canadian intellectual and cultural life over the next half century (including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the National Film Board) or it was a mostly incidental symptom of economic prosperity. What is stunning about the Massey Report today is not only its unembarrassed assertion that culture actually matters but that culture constitutes the bedrock upon which every other national accomplishment rests. In the view of the commissioners, we are talking here about:

Nothing less than the spiritual foundations of our national life. Canadian achievement in every field depends mainly on the quality of the Canadian mind and spirit. This quality is determined by what Canadians think and think about; by the books they read, the pictures they see and the programmes they hear.

Creative Canada has been touted as revolution in federal cultural policy. It is a matter, we are told, of facing reality, of accepting our digital future. It is also a categorical rejection of “culture” as it was conceived by the authors of the Massey Report. Where the authors of that report spoke of “art and letters,” Creative Canada speaks of “content creators.” Where the earlier document explicitly posits culture as bulwark against the “materialistic society” Canada could one day become, Creative Canada is just as explicit that culture is an “engine of economic growth and a competitive advantage” in the materialist society we already are. The Massey Report imagined culture as the vehicle of moral and intellectual education. Creative Canada imagines culture as something you stream on Netflix.

Creative Canada promises nothing short of an epochal “transformation in how we view culture and creativity.” The stakes are indeed enormous: the resulting policy will influence how Canadians get our information, determine the fate of the nation’s most important cultural institutions, and shape the contours of the Canadian imagination for decades to come. What Minister Joly has delivered, however, is a paean to Silicon Valley, a gift to American technology firms, and a vision of Canadian culture as governed by web analytics and productivity tools. Creative Canada is all media and no message, a cultural policy that reflects little of Canada and none of our culture.

Few would suggest that Canadian cultural policy isn’t due for a reboot, given changes that have rocked the publishing and telecommunications industries in recent decades. Canadian daily newspapers have lost 96 percent of their advertising revenue since 2008, while cable subscriptions are down by record numbers—which has led to a corresponding revenue loss for the Canadian Media Fund (cmf), a crucial source of funding for homegrown television and media projects. The cbc, meanwhile, hobbles along in a state of permanent crisis. All of this unfolds alongside, and is partially a product of, the ascendance of streaming services, social networks, and mobile platforms.

Creative Canada attempts to answer the urgent question of how Canadian culture and our institutions will survive in the digital ecosystem. The much-discussed centerpiece of the plan is a $500 million deal with Netflix to establish a permanent production presence in this country. The plan also involves increased federal contributions to sustain the cmf, $125 million in new funding to promote Canadian culture abroad, and reviews of the Broadcasting, Telecommunications, and Copyright Acts.

The problem with Creative Canada isn’t that it devotes money to artists. It’s that it treats those artists as tech entrepreneurs. The ethos of Silicon Valley is encoded into the very dna of our new policy framework. Artists, says Creative Canada, are valued not for the art they produce but for “playing a critical role in driving innovation.” The plan answers the call “for developing the business, technology and entrepreneurial skills of Canadian artists and creators.” The framework’s big idea—aside from the Netflix partnership—is the $300 million investment in “creative hubs” to incubate a startup culture and provide creators “spaces where they can build their entrepreneurial skills, create, collaborate and innovate.” The obeisance to Silicon Valley isn’t just rhetorical: after bluntly stating that the government will not bail out models that are no longer viable—i.e., print based—Joly announced a partnership between Ryerson and Facebook to create a new digital-news incubator. Creative Canada’s answer to the crisis of local news outlets is to provide funding to “accelerate” partnerships with American technology giants.

We’ve seen where this leads. The story of journalism’s increasing dependence on technology firms such as Facebook and Google has been told many times, but Franklin Foer tells it best. Foer, the long-time editor at New Republic, experienced first-hand the consequences of his magazine’s transition to digital after it was purchased by Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, in 2012. For the first hundred years of its history, New Republic had prided itself on being a magazine of ideas devoted, in Foer’s words, to elevating “the cultural and political standards of the country.”

That changed with the magazine’s transition to digital and the accompanying analytic compulsion to produce “snackable” and “trending” content to drive up web traffic and increase advertising revenue. New Republic, under Hughes’s tenure, transformed from an intellectual magazine into a technology company—one that, like virtually every other newspaper and magazine today, needs Google and Facebook to reach its audience. “The problem isn’t just the media’s dependence upon Silicon Valley companies,” Foer writes in his recent book, World Without Mind, but its “dependence upon Silicon Valley values. Just like the tech companies, journalism has come to fetishize data. And this data has come to corrupt journalism.…Once journalists come to know what works, which stories yield web traffic, they will pursue what works. This is the definition of pandering and it has horrific consequences.” It was enough to drive Foer from the magazine in 2014.

Those horrific consequences, however, have been lost on the architects of Creative Canada, whose plan to incentivize deals with Facebook and Google will make the entire Canadian cultural sphere increasingly vulnerable to the whims of American tech giants. The rationale inherent in the government’s plan will turn the leaders of Canadian art and culture into followers of big data. Creative Canada won’t protect the distinctiveness of Canadian art but will shackle it to the homogenizing logic of corporate analytics. The result will be a more calculated, data-driven, snackable Canadian culture, one chasing web hits abroad in order to justify its funding at home. Politicians will sell the concept as an opportunity to “bring Canada to the world,” but Canadian news consumers will increasingly rely on American technology firms, and we will become less informed and more manipulable.

Make no mistake, the government’s increased investments in art and culture should be celebrated by anyone who values art and culture. As Nick Mount concisely puts it in Arrival: The Story of CanLit, “Government support for the arts exists in Canada because private support does not.” But the government’s defence of arts funding in purely economic terms is troubling, and not only because that argument will cease to apply the moment an economist can show that non-arts-based forms of funding bring a bigger return on investment.

The real issue is that Creative Canada profoundly misunderstands the place of art and culture in our society. No lasting or meaningful monument of Canadian art will ever emerge from the desire to benefit the middle class. Leonard Cohen’s poetry would not have been deepened by his participation in a creativity hub. (His idea of a creativity hub was a Buddhist monastery.) Margaret Atwood—whose Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace have been adapted into celebrated examples of streamed entertainment—did not write her novels to satisfy the metrics that determine the content of streamed entertainment. To tie Canadian culture to the analytic outputs of media platforms, to enlist it in cause of economic productivity, is to ask art to renounce its status as art and to assume the function of evangelism.

In The Educated Imagination, critic Northrop Frye argued that culture “provides the kind of values and standards we need if we’re going to do anything better than adjust.” Creative Canada, by contrast, is an instruction manual on how to adjust. It is to cultural policy what tweets are to literature, what LinkedIn is to poetry, what Facebook is to friendship. Canadian creativity will, of course, continue to thrive long after Creative Canada has been forgotten, and it will flourish in direct proportion to its capacity to resist the homogenizing, programmatic, and deadening future the policy imagines.

Ira Wells teaches at Victoria College in the University of Toronto. His work has appeared in The New Republic, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Puritan, among others.

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Source: Why Canada’s New Cultural Policy Will Be Terrible for the Arts · The Walrus

Canadians Adopted Refugee Families for a Year. Then Came ‘Month 13.’ – The New York Times

Cover Photo

Carole Atkins, with children from the Syrian refugee family she sponsored, at an ice rink in Toronto.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

TORONTO — One year after Canada embraced Syrian refugees like no other country, a reckoning was underway.

Ordinary Canadians had essentially adopted thousands of Syrian families, donating a year of their time and money to guide them into new lives just as many other countries shunned them. Some citizens already considered the project a humanitarian triumph; others believed the Syrians would end up isolated and adrift, stuck on welfare or worse. As 2016 turned to 2017 and the yearlong commitments began to expire, the question of how the newcomers would fare acquired a national nickname: Month 13, when the Syrians would try to stand on their own.

On a frozen January afternoon, Liz Stark, a no-nonsense retired teacher, bustled into a modest apartment on the east side of this city, unusually anxious. She and her friends had poured themselves into resettling Mouhamad and Wissam al-Hajj, a former farmer and his wife, and their four children, becoming so close that they referred to one another as substitute grandparents, parents and children.

But the improvised family had a deadline. In two weeks, the sponsorship agreement would end. The Canadians would stop paying for rent and other basics. They would no longer manage the newcomers’ bank account and budget. Ms. Stark was adding Mr. Hajj’s name to the apartment lease, the first step in removing her own.

“The honeymoon is over,” she said later.

That afternoon, her mind was on forms, checks and her to-do list. But she knew that her little group of grandmothers, retirees and book club friends was swimming against a global surge of skepticism, even hatred, toward immigrants and refugees. The president of the superpower to the south was moving to block Syrians and cut back its refugee program. Desperate migrants were crossing into Canada on foot. Stay-out-of-our-country sentiment was reshaping Europe’s political map. In a few days, an anti-Muslim gunman would slaughter worshipers at a Quebec City mosque.

Ms. Stark and her group were betting that much of the world was wrong — that with enough support, poor Muslims from rural Syria could adapt, belong and eventually prosper and contribute in Canada. Against that backdrop, every meeting, decision and bit of progress felt heightened: Would the family succeed?

Ms. Stark’s most crucial task that day was ushering the Syrian couple to a budget tutorial. Banks were new to them. So were A.T.M. cards. Because the sponsors paid their rent and often accompanied them to make withdrawals, the couple had little sense of how to manage money in a bank account.

Some of Canada’s new Syrian refugees had university degrees, professional skills, fledgling businesses already up and running. But the Hajjes could not read or write, even in Arabic. After a year of grinding English study, Mr. Hajj, 36, struggled to get the new words out. He longed to scan a supermarket label or road sign with ease and had grown increasingly upset about his second-grade education, understanding how inadequate it would prove in the years to come.

As he stared down Month 13, he felt overwhelmed and alarmed. “We don’t know what will happen,” he said.

From the start of the budgeting appointment, the settlement counselor, Roula Ajib, knew something was wrong. “Why are you losing weight?” she asked Mr. Hajj in Arabic. Many other Syrian refugees had filled out in Canada.

Worry, he replied. On top of his other concerns, his father back in Syria was entreating Mr. Hajj to send money for doctor’s visits and for farming supplies to help feed their family, even pushing him to ask the sponsors for the funds. When the son said no, unsure if he would have anything to spare and unwilling to ask the Canadians for more help, his father stopped answering his calls. A few days before the appointment, Mr. Hajj, riddled with guilt, grabbed his new cellphone, threw it to the floor and crushed it under his foot.

His wife, 37, protested the waste of money and told him to be patient. He had recently gotten a job, in the kitchen of a Middle Eastern restaurant. Their children were attending school for the first time in their lives, learning English and French, becoming ice skaters and soccer champions. She felt sure that the sponsors would remain by their sides and that, apart from financial matters, Month 13 would not change their relationship.

“I know our sponsors love us,” she said. “They won’t leave us.”

But she knew her husband was despairing. She had recently found him curled up on their couch, crying.

Now, as Ms. Stark sat at the table, unable to understand the conversation in Arabic, Mr. Hajj told the counselor he was considering something extreme. “I was thinking about going back to Syria,” he said.




“I can’t cope with the new language. I’ve been here in Canada for one year but I still don’t have the language, only a few words.”


Mouhamad al-Hajj


Stepping Back

A few hours later, his three older children sat with their legs outstretched in an ice rink locker room as two of the sponsors hunched over them, lacing skates. Carole Atkins, a bubbly teacher’s assistant soon to turn 69, was a hockey fanatic, the oldest player in her league. Now she was initiating the Hajj children in the sport, outfitting them with gear and taking them to a weekly class while their parents stayed home. “Skate hard,” she told them as they bounded onto the ice.

Watching from the stands, the sponsors tracked the children’s every move. Moutayam, a fourth grader and the family comedian, was outskating everyone, even the Canadian-born children, charging to the front each time and finishing first. “Oh my God, it’s like he’s running on the ice,” Ms. Atkins exclaimed to Jan Dowler, the sponsor by her side.

As Month 13 approached across Canada, every group of sponsors and refugees had to determine what their new relationship would look like. Some were mutually relieved to be done, the chemistry never quite right. In other cases, the Canadians continued directly funding the Syrians, unable to cut the financial cord.

The Hajj sponsors had already decided that their payments to the family would stop. (While the specifics of private sponsorship could vary, they had raised more than 30,000 Canadian dollars, or about $22,500 in American money, to support the family before the Syrians arrived in February 2016.) The family’s income would dip, but between Mr. Hajj’s earnings and a continued $1,800-a-month government subsidy for low-income families — which he called “the children’s salary” — they would be able to remain in their $1,400-a-month, three-bedroom apartment.

Still, with the deadline nearing, the Hajj sponsors faced uncomfortable, nagging questions: Were they doing too much for the Syrian family? Should they stand back and stop acting as chauffeurs, planners and all-around fixers? Were they willing to let the family make mistakes? Even if they wanted to stop helping, would they be able to?

The skating lessons were only the beginning. Many days at the family’s apartment passed as a series of sponsors knocking at the door, from the mornings when they arrived to tutor Ms. Hajj in English — with a baby at home, she didn’t go out to classes — to the evenings when they took turns assisting with the children’s homework. As they dropped by, they brought extra produce or halal meat, answered questions about mail, drove the Syrians to appointments and took care of whatever else was needed. A calendar on the fridge indicated more reasons for showing up, like dental visits, noted with a tiny sketch of a tooth.




“We have to start to say no. They need to manage on their own.”


Liz Stark


A doctor they had found for the family and a Palestinian-Canadian adviser warned them that they were impeding the Hajjes from becoming self-sufficient. Some of the sponsors felt the same way.

“If we keep up like this, they’re just going to become more and more dependent,” said Ms. Dowler, one of the sponsors who advocated pulling back. “Maybe we’re giving them unreal expectations for the next 10, 20 years of their lives.”

Even Mr. Hajj said he needed to make mistakes. “I have to learn the hard way,” he said.

But the sponsors knew how much the family needed. The Hajjes had fled Syria at the start of the war and spent several miserable years in Lebanon, living in squalid conditions, the children working for a dollar a day. Could they really be expected to be independent in a year?

The sponsors, mostly retirees, had the time to help, and they thrived on their shared sense of mission. They wanted so much for the Hajjes: not just the basics, like language and literacy, but for them to participate in the mainstream of Canadian life. They could not bear the thought of the family becoming isolated, the parents marginalized, the children missing out on activities their own children had taken for granted.

“We’re all middle-class Canadians and we’re raising these kids like middle-class Canadian kids,” said Peggy Karas, another sponsor.

One morning in February, Moutayam’s school bus failed to appear, so the boy dialed one sponsor after another until he got Ms. Karas, who rushed right over instead of letting his mother figure it out. She feared the boy would miss a day of school if she did not step in.

“The dependency comes from both sides,” said Sam Nammoura, a refugee advocate who observed similar situations in Calgary, Alberta, where he served as a liaison between sponsors and Syrians. “The newcomers fear taking risks, and the minute they take a risk, the sponsor thinks, ‘They don’t speak English, I will help them,’” he said.

The sponsors resolved to continue tutoring Ms. Hajj and the children but to retreat in other ways. They asked the Hajj parents to take the children to swimming lessons instead of doing it themselves. They knew they should teach them more bus routes, instead of driving them so much.

But they rarely followed through. When the Hajj children missed a swimming lesson, the sponsors started taking them again. As for showing the family more public transportation routes, “I’m 69,” Ms. Atkins said. “I’m not taking the bus.”

“I haven’t really fostered any independence,” she admitted.

Even Ms. Dowler, who pushed the group to do less, found herself signing up the children for camp over spring break and trying to nab a gardening plot for Mr. Hajj, who missed farming.




“I’m not anxious because I know our sponsors love us. They won’t leave us.”


Wissam al-Hajj


Part of what made it so difficult to step back was that the Syrians and Canadians filled gaps in one another’s lives in a way none of them had anticipated: Wissam al-Hajj had lost her mother as a girl; now the older Canadian women became maternal figures to her, somehow able to trade family gossip and confidences about marriage despite the language gap. Ms. Karas longed for grandchildren and had embraced the four Syrian children as if they were her own. The three eldest had years of lost schooling to make up, and many of the sponsors were retired teachers. When one left Toronto for the winter, she fought back tears saying goodbye to the children.

The next day, when Moutayam was in class, he cried about missing her.

The Welfare Dilemma

For sponsors, one of the most uncomfortable parts of Month 13 was watching the refugees make financial decisions they found questionable at best. Some of the Syrians took what the Canadians felt were the wrong jobs, or signed up for too many credit cards. Others bought cars, even if they did not have driver’s licenses.

The lowest point in the Hajj sponsors’ year had started with an unsettling discovery.

Like other Syrians, Mouhamad al-Hajj had arrived in Canada eager to work, but had been counseled by the sponsors to instead take intensive English classes. (They helped him pick up odd jobs in gardening and construction.)

A couple of months before the Month 13 deadline, he got lucky. The Palestinian-Canadian friend who was advising the group called in a favor the sponsors never could have: He phoned an Egyptian immigrant he had helped years ago who now managed a shawarma restaurant in a mall food court and asked if he could give Mr. Hajj a job. Soon, Mr. Hajj was working a couple of evenings a week in addition to continuing English classes.

But when Liz Stark accompanied Mr. Hajj to the bank to deposit a paycheck, she scanned his transactions and noticed something alarming: a couple of thousands of dollars were missing, withdrawn from A.T.M.s. “I thought he was getting scammed, defrauded,” she said later.

Mr. Hajj, who seemed evasive, said he had taken out the money to stock up on food. “I wanted to make up for my kids the nights we used to go to sleep hungry,” he said.

Ms. Stark, believing that Mr. Hajj didn’t understand his accounts well enough to realize what had happened, went to the bank to try to figure out what had gone wrong. When that turned up no evidence of theft, she and the other sponsors wondered if there were other explanations for the unfamiliar pattern. Had Mr. Hajj sent the money to his father in Syria? Stashed it away in a drawer?

A few weeks later, Mr. Hajj asked the sponsors about going on welfare. He had heard about it from his classmates in English lessons. Some were enrolling, seeing it as a safer bet than insecure, low-wage jobs, they told him. One explained that he could work and still collect the government assistance, if he could persuade his boss to pay him under the table.

With a sinking feeling, the sponsors began to worry: Had Mr. Hajj been withdrawing the money to game the system, to lower his bank balance so he would qualify for social assistance?

Even legal use of the welfare system by Syrian refugees was a charged question, the sponsors knew. Some Canadians argued that welfare was a necessary step for some refugees, buying them more time to learn the language, which would lead to better jobs in the long term. A survival job could turn into a trap, the philosophy went.

But across Canada, resentment was rising about the amount of help the Syrian newcomers had been given. A member of Parliament was running for the head of the Conservative Party on a platform of screening new immigrants and refugees with questions like “Do you recognize that to have a good life in Canada you will need to work hard to provide for yourself and your family, and that you can’t expect to have things you want given to you?”




“I don’t think I expected to be so close to them and care so much about them as I do. I thought this was going to be somewhat distant.”


Peggy Karas


The Hajj sponsors were acutely aware of this concern. “There’s going to be a backlash if suddenly 25,000 Syrians appear on the welfare rolls,” Ms. Stark said. In Europe, the idea that government is taking services away from citizens and giving them to foreigners has become a familiar complaint.

The sponsors weren’t sure what to believe; they suspected that Mr. Hajj was keeping a secret. The situation was “eroding my confidence in Mouhamad and it was eroding my feelings towards the family,” Ms. Stark said.

She and the other sponsors asked themselves: How could this be happening, after they had grown so close to the family? And did they really have the right to know or question how Mr. Hajj used money?

In reply to his question about welfare, Ms. Karas did not mince words. “We didn’t bring you here and give you all this help so that you could become a drain on our government system,” Ms. Karas told him. She explained that social assistance was a stopgap measure for people in need. “We expected you to go out and get a job and support your family.”

Mr. Hajj agreed not to apply. “I’m a son to these sponsors, who have lived in this country their whole life,” he said later. “They must know for sure what is right and what is wrong.”

“Working is much better than staying at home and doing nothing,” he continued. “And work can make you earn more money.”

The Canadians decided to move on. “I can’t spend my whole life worrying about what happened to that money,” Ms. Stark said.

In fact, Mr. Hajj had even more of a safety net than he knew. The sponsors had not told him that because of government support, they had money left over from the family’s first year. When he and his family encountered extra expenses, they would have several thousand dollars waiting.

A few weeks after starting work, Mr. Hajj was heading to the restaurant when the subway ground to a halt: part of the line was down. He had no idea where he was, panicked that he would be late, tried to find a bus, and couldn’t ask anyone for help in English. He managed to phone the Arabic-speaking friend who advised the sponsor group. The man instructed him to get into a cab and told the driver where to take him.

Later, Mr. Hajj told Ms. Atkins and his children the story, managing to convey part of it in English.

“Bus left here, work,” he said. “Taxi! Money, money big!” (The taxi had cost $12.)

If it happened again, Ms. Atkins told him, he should take the bus to Yorkdale. She spoke it slowly, syllable by syllable, and told him to practice.

“Yorkdale!” the Hajj children chimed in chorus with their father.




“I like English. I like school. I play with my friends, everything.”


Zahiya al-Hajj


Measuring Success

Three weeks later, Peggy Karas stood in the Hajjes’ living room and reached her arms out to Julia, the 9-month-old. It was six days into Month 13. Unlike many other groups, the Hajjes and their sponsors had not marked the moment with speeches or a cake; they did not seem particularly eager to note the transition.

Ms. Karas carried Julia to a wall filled with the sponsors’ pictures, pointed at each, and told the baby a name to match each familiar face: Liz. Jan. Carole. Cliff. Marg. That afternoon, the three older children had parent-teacher conferences, and Ms. Karas and Ms. Atkins were going with them.

But the Hajjes were also showing small new signs of independence. While the sponsors were still setting up their doctor’s appointments, the Syrians were now navigating there alone. Classmates of the couple’s sixth-grade twins had started visiting for playdates. To Ms. Atkins’s delight, the Hajjes canceled plans with her to attend a get-together for Syrian families at a community center. And Zahiya, one of the twins, wowed everyone by writing down a phone message in English.

Mr. Hajj still had not spoken to his father. But the restaurant was giving him more hours, and his co-workers, more seasoned arrivals from around the Muslim world, encouraged him and taught him new English words. Mr. Hajj even got his first raise, to $13 per hour from $11.50.

As his English inched forward, his talk of going back to Syria subsided. “I am now out of the zone of only listening,” he said in March, still using his native language to describe his new one. “I’m able to talk back to people, too,” he said.

Across the country, as Month 13 turned into Months 14 and 15, the early results of private sponsorship of Syrians looked a lot like Mr. Hajj’s progress — still tentative, but showing forward motion. According to early government figures, about half of privately sponsored adults were working full or part time.

We have spent over a year reporting on Canada’s unusual welcome of Syrian refugees, looking deeply at several newcomer families and the volunteers helping them. More on the series.

As a group, they were outpacing the thousands more refugees who did not have sponsors and were being resettled by the government — only about 10 percent of them had jobs (on the whole, they were less educated and had higher rates of serious health problems and other needs). Previous refugees to Canada over the past decade — a mix of Iraqis, Afghans, Colombians, Eritreans and more — had followed the same pattern, with privately sponsored refugees more likely to be employed after a year at similar rates.

Around the world, as a response to the colossal refugee crisis, more countries were exploring Canada’s unique system of letting everyday citizens resettle refugees. Britain and Argentina were starting pilot programs, and others were expected to follow.

“The sponsorship program, in my opinion, is the most efficient way of bringing new people into the country, because it provides so much support, emotional, social and financial,” said Mr. Nammoura, the refugee advocate.

In Canada, so many people applied to sponsor relatives of the first wave of Syrians that the system was jammed, slots for new refugees impossible to find. (The Hajj sponsors began applying for two of their siblings’ families to come to Canada after two New York Times readers learned of their struggles in an earlier article and donated the sponsorship costs, but the Canadians anticipated a lengthy wait.)

Even the opposition Conservative Party, which accused the government of bringing in more Syrians than it could handle — over 40,000 since November 2015 — supported increasing the number of privately sponsored refugees. “There’s no reason why Canada shouldn’t be harnessing the generosity of private citizens,” said Michelle Rempel, the Conservative Party’s leader on immigration and refugee policy.


Ms. Karas and Ms. Stark reading with Zayiha and Majed. “How can you help but get attached?” Ms. Karas said.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

But there was no common definition of success: Was it enough that these refugees were not dying in the Mediterranean or languishing in camps? Was working a menial job for subsistence pay a positive outcome? Many resettlement veterans argued that it was unrealistic to expect refugees to be self-sufficient after a year, and that the real test would be the fate of their children. In a huge country with a relatively low population, where immigration was seen as necessary fuel, many Canadians were willing to make a generational investment.

“We didn’t think about what success would look like,” Ms. Stark said. “We just thought about changing the life of one family.”

The Hajjes wished they could repay the sponsors, but it felt impossible. “They give us so much and we don’t have anything to give,” Ms. Hajj said. “So Mouhamad and I and the kids are always praying for them.”

As the Hajjes and the sponsors left the apartment for the parent-teacher conferences, Peggy Karas asked if Ms. Hajj had brought a diaper for Julia, and the Syrian mother tucked one in her pocket. In the school parking lot, Ms. Karas pushed the stroller and Carole Atkins turned up with the older children, whom she had collected after school. A janitor let everyone in through a locked door, but looked quizzically at the motley group.

“It’s a big family,” Ms. Karas told him with a laugh.

The twins’ sixth-grade teacher was Stefanie Apostol, a Romanian immigrant who taught a special program for students who lacked formal schooling. She had a lingering accent, a commanding presence and a habit of calling Zahiya and her twin brother, Majed, “my kids.”

She began the meeting by firing off bursts of good news. The twins, unable to read at the start of the school year, were deciphering words. They showed up every day determined, worked intently, asked questions. Zahiya was meticulous. Majed was fast. They competed furiously.

An interpreter tried to keep up with the praise, and as she translated for the Hajj parents, a look of immense relief passed over Mouhamad’s face. His children had gone without schooling for so many years. He had been worried that it was too late, that they would be illiterate like him. “We were afraid that they wouldn’t be able to learn,” he said.

The teacher, grasping the depth of his fear, decided to show him proof. She beckoned the boy and girl to a stack of simple books and told them to each choose one.

“The shark played with Mark at the park until dark,” Majed read.

“The chick did a trick with a brick,” Zahiya followed, more hesitant.

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Mr. Hajj, glowing, looked like a different person. The teacher turned to the sponsors. “Thanks to you guys,” she said, sharing the credit. “You help and support us.” Moutayam’s teacher had been even more direct: She asked the sponsors to confirm that they would keep working with him, and they replied that they would continue until he could do the homework completely on his own.

Dropping the family off at their apartment, Ms. Atkins had intended to go straight home. But at the doorway, Majed wanted her to read him his report card, and Zahiya tugged at her, too.

“I guess I’m going back in,” she said.


Source: Canadians Adopted Refugee Families for a Year. Then Came ‘Month 13.’ – The New York Times

Warning: Canada is not what you think it is | Canada | Al Jazeera


Warning: Canada is not what you think it is

If you assume Canada is a welcoming haven from the bile and divisiveness in the age of Trump, you may be mistaken.

| Islamophobia, Canada, US & Canada

Former Canadian PM Harper spent much of his tenure fuelling and satisfying the not-so-latent Islamophobia that was politically appealing to his legion of supporters, writes Mitrovica [Getty Images]
Former Canadian PM Harper spent much of his tenure fuelling and satisfying the not-so-latent Islamophobia that was politically appealing to his legion of supporters, writes Mitrovica [Getty Images]



Andrew Mitrovica is an award-winning investigative reporter and journalism instructor.

Warning: if you believe Canada is a pretty, picture-postcard Islamophobia-free zone, then I recommend you stop reading this column. You’re about to be profoundly disappointed, shocked, or both.

Scratch its inviting surface and you will discover quickly that, as in most other Western democracies, Islamophobia is not only alive and rampant in Canada, but it has long been a defining characteristic of at least one of its major political parties and large swaths of the country’s corporate media.

The most recent evidence of this unassailable fact has been on unsavoury display in the still raw residue of the massacre of six Muslim Canadians at prayer in a Quebec City mosque earlier this month.

Immediately after the terrorist attack, politicians went about the ritual of decrying the murders, while praying for the victims and their grieving families and urging their countrymen to rally around the Muslim community as a sign of unity and support.

Meanwhile, after a burst of attention to blunt any criticism that it took a terrorist attack on Muslims in Canada by a white, reactionary male as seriously as attacks in Paris, Brussels or London, much of the establishment media promptly went on its way, as the carnage in a mosque receded comfortably into the rearview mirror.

But difficult questions remained unanswered. Chief among them: What to do about the Islamophobia that was stoked into a raging bonfire by some of the very politicians and media that were pleading – with all the faux solemnity they could muster – for harmony and understanding?

Condemning Islamophobia

Wisely sceptical of the flowery rhetoric, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) – a prominent voice for Canada’s Muslim community – has written an open letter to politicians of all persuasions, urging them to take concrete steps to confront Islamophobia and racism and discrimination that exists plainly in their midst.

Among its sensible recommendations, the NCCM said that more money needed to be spent to report and gather data on hate crimes and train police; that, following the province of Ontario’s lead, other provinces should create an anti-racism directorate and establish a mandatory high-school course on systemic racism and its corrosive impact on society.

Finally, the NCCM threw its powerful backing behind a largely symbolic, non-binding motion sponsored by a governing Liberal MP, Iqra Khalid, that calls on the House of Commons to condemn Islamophobia and all religious discrimination in the aftermath of the Quebec city attack.

For context, it’s important to note that after a few hours of perfunctory debate, Canadian parliamentarians unanimously adopted another Liberal MP’s motion in 2015 condemning the “rise of anti-Semitism around the world”.

Not surprisingly, Khalid’s motion has faced a much more different, tumultuous and instructive fate.

Rather than be approved swiftly and unanimously, Motion 103 has morphed into a running spectacle that has not only dominated Canada’s political agenda but has also exposed the pus of Islamophobia still oozing from Canadian politicians and media that only a few weeks ago were expressing sympathy for men murdered during evening prayers because they were Muslims.

‘Phantom horrors’

Leading the hysterical charge in opposing the motion is Canada’s Conservative Party and the bevy of candidates who are vying to lead it. All but one of the leadership candidates have signalled their vehement opposition to the motion, claiming that, among other phantom horrors, it would stifle freedom of speech and possibly act as a precursor to the invocation of “Sharia Law”.

This is, of course, lunacy. But it is lunacy that has coursed its malevolent way through the core of the Conservative Party for a long time and not, as some have suggested, emerged only lately from the swamp of Islamophobia to take up residence at the party’s radical “fringes”.

Harper not only stocked his cabinet with ministers who shared his embrace of what amounted to hate politics, but also plucked them from obscurity, gave them a national profile, all the while defending and championing them.


This is a revisionist lie. Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper spent much of his tenure fuelling and satisfying the not-so-latent Islamophobia that was politically appealing to his legion of supporters by making the niqab a racist dog-whistle and lauding “old-stock Canadians”.

By the way, the NCCM has sued Harper and his former spokesman for suggesting that the respected advocacy group had “documented ties to a terrorist organisation such as Hamas“.

Harper not only stocked his cabinet with ministers who shared his embrace of what amounted to hate politics, but also plucked them from obscurity, gave them a national profile, all the while defending and championing them.

Perhaps Harper’s signature legacy in this sorry regard was first encouraging, and then promoting, the political career of Kellie Leitch – who, in turn, repaid her patron’s largesse with unrivalled zealotry and loyalty.

During last year’s election campaign, Leitch fronted the unveiling of a Harper-approved “tip line” for reporting so-called “barbaric cultural practices” – a thinly disguised, bureaucratic euphemism for Islam.

And, today, as a prominent and popular Conservative leadership candidate, Leitch keeps channelling her former boss’s odious modus operandi while attending a “freedom rally” stuffed with avowed Islamophobes who are convinced Motion 103 is an Islam-inspired plot to undermine Canadians’ rights and freedoms.

“It’s great to be in a room full of severely normal people tonight,” Leitch told the adoring crowd. “Canadian values are not fringe, and together, I know, we are going to fight for them.”

Leitch is Harper without the filter.

READ MORE: In Quebec, calls for unity amid rising Islamophobia

Cheering her on is an equally hysterical mob of largely right-wing journalists who have pounced on Khalid and her motion, chomping at the bit of Islamophobia while insisting, unconvincingly, that their objections to Motion 103 are motivated solely by their oh-so-sincere concern that it would grant one religion “special status” over all others.

Khalid put an emphatic lie to this transparently spurious reasoning after rising in the House of Commons to read out a sampling of the relentless torrent of hate, death threats and Islamophobia she has endured in the days since proffering her motion.

She has been called a “terrorist” and a “camel humping” “scumbag” who should be shot by a “Canadian patriot” or deported “like a disgusting piece of trash.” She has advised her staff not to answer the phone and to lock the office door behind them.

Undeterred, Khalid rightly excoriated the remnants of Harper’s Conservative caucus for its “cynical, divisive tactics … to try to start a fake frenzy around the word Islamophobia, instead of tackling the issue at hand.”

So, the next time you’re inclined to praise or even consider moving to Canada because it’s allegedly a welcoming haven from the bile and divisiveness in the age of Donald Trump, it might be best to remember these obscenities before you act on your impulses.

Andrew Mitrovica is an award-winning investigative reporter and journalism instructor.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Warning: Canada is not what you think it is | Canada | Al Jazeera.

1 in 4 Canadians want Trump-style travel ban, poll suggests – Politics – CBC News

A “significant segment” of Canadians say Canada’s 2017 refugee target of 40,000 is too high, while one in four Canadians wants the Liberal government to impose its own Trump-style travel ban.

Those are just two of the findings in a new Angus Reid Institute poll that looked at Canadians’ attitudes toward the federal government’s handling of refugees.

“We tend to, when we are looking at numbers, look at the majority view. But the fact that one in four Canadians are of the mind that we should be looking to our own travel ban is significant and is part of a red flag that is starting to emerge in terms of refugee policy,” said Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute.

Overall, 47 per cent of Canadians surveyed said Canada is taking in the right number of refugees. But 11 per cent say 40,000 is too low and Canada should take in more, while 41 per cent say the 2017 target is too high and that we should not be taking in any more refugees.

Kurl told CBC News that “41 per cent is not the majority voice but it is a significant segment of the population that is actually saying our targets for 2017 are too high and that, I think, adds to a level of anxiety for those folks.

“Certainly in terms of that ‘too many, too few’ debate, a lot more people think it’s too many than too few,” she said.

The survey also asked Canadians about the federal government’s decision not to alter its own immigration policy to match that of U.S. President Donald Trump’s after he rolled out his travel ban.

Some 57 per cent of Canadians said the federal government made the right call in not following Trump’s lead, while 18 per cent said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government should have chosen to take in more refugees.

Working hard to fit in

When it comes to whether the government did a good job of resettling refugees, 61 per cent said they either strongly (12 per cent) or moderately (49 per cent) agree that it had. But some 39 per cent of people either moderately (22 per cent) or strongly (17 per cent) disagreed.

Kurl said those surveyed are also split over how well refugees are integrating into Canadian society, and how enthusiastically Canadians are welcoming new arrivals.

A slim majority of (54 per cent) say refugees do not make enough of an effort to fit into mainstream society, while 46 per cent say that they do try hard to fit in.

When the responses are broken down across age groups, it’s revealed that the younger the person, the more likely they are to say that refugees are working hard to fit into Canadian society.

For example, 62 per cent of those in the 18-24 age range say refugees are making enough of an effort to fit in, but in the 25-34 age range that drops to 47 per cent.

There is a slight spike among 35-44 year olds where 54 per cent of those asked said refugees are working hard to fit in, but for those who are 45 and older, only one in four said the same thing.

Not so welcome

When it comes to welcoming refugees, 38 per cent said that people in their neighbourhood would not be welcoming to refugee families moving in.

Kurl said the numbers of people showing opposition or dissatisfaction with the refugee resettlement plan may be in a minority but “it’s far from a handful of people that can be easily dismissed,” she said.

“There are significant segments of folks who are expressing opposition and unease and anxiety to both the numbers, our target levels of 40,000, and then there is a smaller group, but not a fringe group, who are questioning whether we should be taking refugees at all.”

The Angus Reid Institute conducted the online survey between Feb. 6-9, 2017, using a random sample of 1,508 adult Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum.

A sample of this size carries a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Discrepancies in total numbers are due to rounding.

1 in 4 Canadians want Trump-style travel ban, poll suggests – Politics – CBC News.